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#1878528 - 04/12/12 10:47 PM Rebuilding a 1872 Steinway D  
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MBA Offline
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Hi. I may buy a 1872 Steinway D and have it rebuilt by a very reputable shop. However a local technician is discouraging me since he says the wood will probably be too old and the piano won't be able to cope with the string tension which will be much higher than when those pianos were built. Any thoughts? Thank you very much
[Linked Image]

Attached Files Steinway.jpg
Last edited by MBA; 04/13/12 03:34 PM.
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#1878553 - 04/12/12 11:17 PM Re: Rebuilding a 1872 Steinway D [Re: MBA]  
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Look over in the Technician's area at what I had to say about restringing an old Bösendorfer.

I will add that pianos from the era before the construction became standardized are probably best left to people who specialize in such things, and not used as everyday instruments.


Semipro Tech
#1878565 - 04/12/12 11:40 PM Re: Rebuilding a 1872 Steinway D [Re: MBA]  
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Hi MBA,

If the Steinway you are looking at was made in 1872, it is not a D. It is an earlier model with a very different design. Unless you are looking for a historic instrument that is quite different than a modern piano in both sound and touch, you might want to reconsider this. These early Steinways can be quite interesting and beautiful sounding, but I agree with BDB in that for most people, they are not an everyday instrument.
If you can link some pictures, or give more information about this particular instrument such as its length and number of keys, I can give you more information about it.
We have an 1865 Style IV 88 note Steinway concert grand which we restored ( although Steinway's sale records call it a Style III fancy, all other research seems to indicate it is a Style IV, apparently the same model could have been called by different numbers ) and it is a remarkable piano which I love, but it has a very particular sound that is quite different from a modern Steinway D.


Keith D Kerman
PianoCraft
Rebuilding & Sales - vintage and used Steinway, Mason & Hamlin
New Steingraeber, Estonia, Baldwin
www.pianocraft.net
check out www.sitkadoc.com
www.twitter.com/pianocraft https://www.youtube.com/user/pianocraftchannel

keith@pianocraft.net 888-840-5460
#1878582 - 04/13/12 12:08 AM Re: Rebuilding a 1872 Steinway D [Re: MBA]  
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Rich Galassini Offline
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As Keith said, the piano you are considering is a predecessor to the modern D. It is different in many respects but is quite a beautiful instrument in its own right.

There is no reason why these instruments cannot perform for world class players. Here is a link to a veteran Van Cliburn competitor performing on an 1875 Steinway concert grand that we had freshly rebuilt this past November:

Excerpt from an 11/11 performance on an 1875 Steinway Concert Grand

To bring out the potential on these instruments requires expertise and experience. They are a different beast from the modern D.

My 2 cents,






Rich Galassini
Cunningham Piano Co.
Phila, Pa.
(215) 991-0834 direct line
rich@cunninghampiano.com
Check out the Science Channel's "How Its Made" featuring our piano restoration:
http://www.cunninghampiano.com/how-its-made/
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#1878677 - 04/13/12 05:38 AM Re: Rebuilding a 1872 Steinway D [Re: MBA]  
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Wow that piano certainly has a sound of it's own. It's not a modern Steinway at all, it seems to have a lighter sound, with less sustain perhaps, but is a more dramatic, less homogenized sound than todays instruments have.

It's very interesting to hear the repertoire performed on the instruments of the day, because we tend to forget how much the piano has changed even in the last 30 years.

Beautiful sounding piano indeed. Encourages me to hold on to that old Bluthner of mine and have it rebuilt one day.

#1878679 - 04/13/12 05:42 AM Re: Rebuilding a 1872 Steinway D [Re: MBA]  
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DON'T BUY IT!!! and don't get it rebuilt by someone who is going to change the scale and make it into something it's not..

buy a more modern piano if that's what you want, don't alter a piano which was born in a time when the overall sonority was sweeter and not as metallic..

I feel that you can do what you like with the more common pianos, but historic pianos need to be preserved for what they are, not as cheap wannabes of modern pianos.



rhythm must be inborn - Alfred Cortot

An Article on the unusual makeup of original Pleyel hammers, during Chopin's lifetime:

http://acortot.blogspot.it/2012/07/pleyel-hammers-in-chopin-era-i-martelli.html

Max DiMario
#1878686 - 04/13/12 06:19 AM Re: Rebuilding a 1872 Steinway D [Re: MBA]  
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Greetings,
Be advised that Steinway did not care for this model, changing it drastically in the next 10 or so years. There is a reason that they did not continue building pianos like this, they were inferior to the next generation!
The board will be dead, the action in need of replacement. To get the piano back to its original condition would cost above $30,000 and you would still have an inferior instrument.
To quote Al Sanderson, (inventor of the modern ETD), "Steinway sure learned a lot about pianos between 1870 and 1890."

Regards,

#1878691 - 04/13/12 06:45 AM Re: Rebuilding a 1872 Steinway D [Re: MBA]  
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Wow Rich what nice light sound! and on a beast that size I expected excessive ringing overtones! no way! what a delight to hear.. smile

#1878714 - 04/13/12 07:40 AM Re: Rebuilding a 1872 Steinway D [Re: Ed Foote]  
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Originally Posted by Bob Newbie
Wow Rich what nice light sound! and on a beast that size I expected excessive ringing overtones! no way! what a delight to hear.. smile


Thank you Bob.

Originally Posted by Ed Foote
Greetings,
Be advised that Steinway did not care for this model, changing it drastically in the next 10 or so years. There is a reason that they did not continue building pianos like this, they were inferior to the next generation!


Ed,

You already know you have my total respect and the action absolutely had positive changes from the 1870's. But those three piece rim bellies that were being made in the concert grands right along side the continuous bent rime were beautiful man.

I feel the modern belly has two advantages:
1) it is cheaper to build
2) it is easier to repeat without a tremendous skill set.

These are two compelling reasons when when the newer design works well too. I just love the concert grands of this time. I love watching the differences year to year - almost piano to piano. I also appreciate all of the extra work and passion that was put into these beasts.

My 2 cents,


Rich Galassini
Cunningham Piano Co.
Phila, Pa.
(215) 991-0834 direct line
rich@cunninghampiano.com
Check out the Science Channel's "How Its Made" featuring our piano restoration:
http://www.cunninghampiano.com/how-its-made/
#1878947 - 04/13/12 01:29 PM Re: Rebuilding a 1872 Steinway D [Re: Rich Galassini]  
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MBA Offline
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Thank you everyone. I tried to upload a picture, but I'm new at this and I'm not sure I did it right.

I don't need the sound of a modern D once this piano is rebuilt. In fact, I would love to have a warmer less bright tone than your typical D. I just want to make sure that this piano will be able to handle a full rebuild. The shop I would take it to is one of the best in the country.

Thank you all


#1879170 - 04/13/12 07:57 PM Re: Rebuilding a 1872 Steinway D [Re: MBA]  
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I think the piano will handle a full rebuild, but a technician will know better. I think you're aware of what the end result could be and you're not in it to buy a modern piano at a reduced price (that's where Yamaha, Kawai, Brodmann etc come in - and rebuilding the Steinway will cost more than those pianos). I think if you love the piano, and you want to preserve the sound of it via a full rebuild, then go for it.

These old pianos are so special in their own way, offering a different tonal palette. Enjoy!

#1879407 - 04/14/12 07:41 AM Re: Rebuilding a 1872 Steinway D [Re: Ed Foote]  
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Thanks Ed,

But if I replace everything in the inside, soundboard, strings, action, etc., with the best available modern parts and just safe the case, why would you consider it still an inferior instrument?

#1879411 - 04/14/12 07:48 AM Re: Rebuilding a 1872 Steinway D [Re: Rich Galassini]  
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Thank you, I don't have my laptop connected to a good sound system so it is difficult for me to appreciate the quality of the sound. It seems though that notes die very quickly, specially in the treble. Is that the case? FYI, if you love that Granados piece, go to youtube and listen to Alicia de Larocha playing the same... I'm afraid this Van Cliburn contestant doesn't get any of the true spirit of the piece. She should go to Spain and party a few nights with gypsies playing guitar and dancing flamenco, may be that would help...

#1879413 - 04/14/12 07:53 AM Re: Rebuilding a 1872 Steinway D [Re: Keith D Kerman]  
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MBA Offline
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Thank you. I tried linking pictures but I don't seem to be able to do it. Here I will try again.

Attached Files Steinway D 1872.jpg
#1879432 - 04/14/12 08:34 AM Re: Rebuilding a 1872 Steinway D [Re: MBA]  
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Here's how I put up a photo:

(I start by upload my photo at a photohosting site.)

I go to www.postimage.org and UPLOAD my photo there.
Then I click on "copy to clipboard" beside the DIRECT LINK info that appears.

I then come to Pianoworld and in the posting window click on the square icon at the top that is the fourth from the left "Enter an image".
(You have to make sure that you are in the "Full Reply Screen" otherwise you will not see the icon options at the top of the window.)

Select any of the "centering" options that comes up in the pop up menu (I've never noticed a difference in which one I choose) and RIGHT CLICK on the address line and select PASTE then OK.

(That should copy the direct link location info that you got from the photohosting site.)

By doing those steps I've just loaded this picture that appears below.
[Linked Image]

Give it a shot because it's actually pretty simple to do and I'd like to see the pictures that you're trying to post.

Last edited by Sparky McBiff; 04/14/12 08:41 AM.
#1879440 - 04/14/12 09:11 AM Re: Rebuilding a 1872 Steinway D [Re: MBA]  
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Originally Posted by MBA
Thank you, I don't have my laptop connected to a good sound system so it is difficult for me to appreciate the quality of the sound. It seems though that notes die very quickly, specially in the treble. Is that the case? FYI, if you love that Granados piece, go to youtube and listen to Alicia de Larocha playing the same... I'm afraid this Van Cliburn contestant doesn't get any of the true spirit of the piece. She should go to Spain and party a few nights with gypsies playing guitar and dancing flamenco, may be that would help...


MBA,

This piano is a more delicate tone than a modern D and I think Ang Li described it as a "sweeter" tone than she was used to from newer Ds that she has played. It was beautiful in that space, but it would not do in a house with 1500 seats, that is clear to me.

Having said that, none of the artists who have played this instrument have commented on a lack of sustain - and we did ask for a critique from each artist.

One day I would like to spend a few nights with Spanish gypsies and Flemenco dancers. I know I would learn from them.... and we might even get to their music. wink

Thank you for your post MBA. I enjoyed your comment.


Rich Galassini
Cunningham Piano Co.
Phila, Pa.
(215) 991-0834 direct line
rich@cunninghampiano.com
Check out the Science Channel's "How Its Made" featuring our piano restoration:
http://www.cunninghampiano.com/how-its-made/
#1879513 - 04/14/12 12:06 PM Re: Rebuilding a 1872 Steinway D [Re: MBA]  
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Originally Posted by MBA
It seems though that notes die very quickly, specially in the treble. Is that the case? FYI, if you love that Granados piece, go to youtube and listen to Alicia de Larocha playing the same...


MBA, the treble on the Steinway that you are considering definately is most noticably different than a modern D in the treble. The notes may sustain for an acceptable amount of time, but the sustain itself will be much lighter than on a good modern D with a strong treble. Also, because of the design, the treble in general, is not as strong as the rest of the piano in most objective ways.

Because of this, a pianist can achieve all sorts of interesting effects that may be more difficult or impossible on a modern piano with a stronger and thicker sounding treble. There is an inherant transparency to the sound of these pianos that allows one to understand better the intentions of the composers of that time by following the scores more exactly. For example, one can change the damper pedal less frequently, according to a score, and create beautiful atmospheric effects without creating a big messy blur which would happen on a modern piano.

You can rebuild these old Steinways to have stronger trebles and work more like a modern instrument, but I think that is a mistake. I believe the best rebuild approach with these instruments is to remain as faithful to the original sound of these pianos as possible, and love them for what they are and not for what they are not.

I do think it is ok to modernize the actions on these instruments if the intention is to play them regularly, but one can restore the original action on these instruments without modernizing them and they can work decently.

Also, as Rich pointed out, these instruments require experience and skill sets different from the rebuilding of modern Steinways.


Keith D Kerman
PianoCraft
Rebuilding & Sales - vintage and used Steinway, Mason & Hamlin
New Steingraeber, Estonia, Baldwin
www.pianocraft.net
check out www.sitkadoc.com
www.twitter.com/pianocraft https://www.youtube.com/user/pianocraftchannel

keith@pianocraft.net 888-840-5460
#1879522 - 04/14/12 12:39 PM Re: Rebuilding a 1872 Steinway D [Re: Sparky McBiff]  
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MBA Offline
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Thank you, here we go [img:center]http://postimage.org/image/p8dr55he7/[/img]

Last edited by MBA; 04/14/12 12:41 PM.
#1879526 - 04/14/12 12:45 PM Re: Rebuilding a 1872 Steinway D [Re: MBA]  
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Here you go:

[Linked Image]


BMus(Hons) DipABRSM
Piano Technician
#1879530 - 04/14/12 12:52 PM Re: Rebuilding a 1872 Steinway D [Re: MBA]  
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Keith D Kerman Offline
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Hi MBA,

It is unfortunate that they changed all of the beautiful historic details on that piano to modernize it. To get the correct legs, lyre, and music desk will be very expensive. Also, that piano was probably a gorgeous Rosewood before being made black. If the original Rosewood hasn't been ruined, to strip off that black finish and refinish it in Rosewood will be very expensive.

I would say it would be a very worthwhile project to save that piano and get it back to how it looked originally and restore it to its original sound, but this is a hugely expensive project to be done correctly, and if you are not into the type of sound this instrument is designed to have, it might not be for you.

I would recommend against trying to restore this piano to be a kind of weird semi modern instrument. If it works to your liking now, and it is cheap enough, that is probably worthwhile, or doing a major restoration to get it back to the way it was originally because you love the historic but very different sound of these instruments. I think any other approach might be regretted or a waste of money.


Keith D Kerman
PianoCraft
Rebuilding & Sales - vintage and used Steinway, Mason & Hamlin
New Steingraeber, Estonia, Baldwin
www.pianocraft.net
check out www.sitkadoc.com
www.twitter.com/pianocraft https://www.youtube.com/user/pianocraftchannel

keith@pianocraft.net 888-840-5460
#1879564 - 04/14/12 01:49 PM Re: Rebuilding a 1872 Steinway D [Re: Rich Galassini]  
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Originally Posted by Rich Galassini

This piano is a more delicate tone than a modern D and I think Ang Li described it as a "sweeter" tone than she was used to from newer Ds that she has played. It was beautiful in that space, but it would not do in a house with 1500 seats, that is clear to me.

Having said that, none of the artists who have played this instrument have commented on a lack of sustain -


Having played that particular Steinway at Rich's shop for about 10-15 minutes, I concur with the above statement completely. The tonal transparency/sweetness and different dynamic profile of the instrument that Keith eludes to is certainly apparent and probably the most notable aspect of the instrument (looks aside). I don't remember much about sustain on that piano occupying either extreme; perhaps I was distracted by the seemingly endless sustain of a couple of Bosendorfers he had on the floor...


Pianist, teacher, apprentice technician, internet addict.
Piano Review Editor - Acoustic and Digital Piano Buyer
#1879656 - 04/14/12 05:16 PM Re: Rebuilding a 1872 Steinway D [Re: MBA]  
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Originally Posted by MBA
Ed,

But if I replace everything in the inside, soundboard, strings, action, etc., with the best available modern parts and just safe the case, why would you consider it still an inferior instrument?


Is this a type III with the 3/4 plate? If so, you will have problems with the pinblock bending upwards,(at least, that is what happened to a Type III that I had the factory rebuild the belly and block ). The three piece cases will have a smaller sound in the top half of the piano.
I am not a fan of the sound, they impress me as weak, and possessing less tonal range than a well voiced modern piano. A nice reproduction fortepiano is more musical to my ear than these things.
Regards,

#1879687 - 04/14/12 06:22 PM Re: Rebuilding a 1872 Steinway D [Re: MBA]  
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acortot Offline
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I actually prefer the 1872 Steinway sound to the modern ones.

I think the restoration in the video could have used a bit softer hammer IMO, because the sound of the 1800's was not bright.. until 1900 or so at least.

The French Pianos such as Erard, which were the number one piano for classical musicians in Europe had a softer and lighter sound with less treble power and attack

consider that today people complain about their grands being too loud in their house, doing all sorts of things like stuffing the bottom of the piano etc.. (some people do at least)

a piano like the 1872 will have less volume



one more thing I will add is that probably, if the steinway in question was in line with the rest of the pianos made in that epoch) the action will be lighter and it may not be the Erard-herz action which came out in 1880 on Steinways (todays modern action is a copy of Erard's action, modified by Henri Herz and built in a more stable and rigid fashion by Steinway).


The pianist in the video was probably not used to such an instrument and played as if she were playing a modern concert grand, putting a lot of weight and playing beyond the piano's dynamic range.. which is why it sounds a little boxy and percussive.. that and the hammers which at the time were made with higher-quality softer fibres and produced sweeter-sounding fortissimos.

Last edited by acortot; 04/14/12 06:22 PM.

rhythm must be inborn - Alfred Cortot

An Article on the unusual makeup of original Pleyel hammers, during Chopin's lifetime:

http://acortot.blogspot.it/2012/07/pleyel-hammers-in-chopin-era-i-martelli.html

Max DiMario
#1879743 - 04/14/12 09:01 PM Re: Rebuilding a 1872 Steinway D [Re: MBA]  
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Originally Posted by MBA
Thank you, here we go [img:center]http://postimage.org/image/p8dr55he7/[/img]


Sry - that's not an original 1872 concert grand..

Not because of the colour. Not because of the legs.. (see below..)

It's because of the third pedal, the sostenuto. This was invented by Theodore Steinway in 1874; he put it in the square grands and a year later into the concert grands. As the first sostenuto systems in the concert grands were also fitted to the wall, I would be very much interested in an inner view of the mechanism..

Most probably it is also converted in another item - to the capstan use. Capstans started in 1875 (march, 1st case whose mechanism later got capstans), also an invention of Theodore S. Patd 11/30/1875. Elder versions originally had the "rocker" action. In this a pushrod connects the key with the repetiton.

Rich - ;-) 88 keys started in the concert grands in 1863. (OT the earliest 88 key instruments of Steinway were the bigger square pianos, they named them "square concert grands". They partly got 88 keys yet in the very first year 1853.) Every Steinway concert grand (>8 ft.) since 1863 has 88 keys.

At any time in these years 1870-77 Steinway begun to offer also black grand pianos. Plain versions, without carved wood. Maybe yet with the "spade" legs. It started 1877 the latest - maybe earlier - that the customers had a chance to order other than rosewood veneer. I own an early Centennial D concert grand built 1877 which is plain and was delivered in such original ex works cond. named "style V" - different to the "style IV" (rosewood, cabriolet legs).

So the 1872 grand piano is modified.. Sostenuto. Maybe the case is built originally without rosewood veneer but black spray on maple?

The curves of the keyboard arms show the "classical" Erard V pattern.

Transient part of that very bulding year 1872 was the duplex scale. Cit. Roy Kehl (p.107):"1872 5/14 patent: Duplex scale for all grands, cabinet grands and square grands (88-note trichord-treble squares)"

Has it the duplex scale or not? The invention was done by Theodore Steinway and tested with his friend the physicist Von Helmholtz in Berlin who had got a concert grand in 1870 with some experimental modifications @ co-sounding (non-speaking) string lenghts.

Serial no. of the concert grand? Steinway Queens yet asked for a PDF email copy of the corresponding delivery book page? (ask kindly @ Mr. Kirkland.)

I bet: it is a "style III" concert grand, the savvy version compared with the carved beautiful rosewood style IV concert grand type. Plate with rhomboid sound holes. Rocker action originally, no sostenuto. Spade legs (straight) and lyre (straigt) but two pedals originally. Later converted to the capstan action, maybe together with this the sostenuto and third pedal w. other lyre was built in.

If it is an early original Steinway Sostenuto version: it is valuable - to extract it out of the 1872 grand and put it into a fitting concert grand with the old symmetrical string field layout 17-18-18-18-17 - beginning 1875, ending 1884 - with due respect to the original ex works delivry statuses. To take from the 1872 grand what hasnot to be there, and to giveit to grands which should get back their "original stuff".


Pls excuse any bad english.

D 1877 satin black plain
#1879910 - 04/15/12 07:29 AM Re: Rebuilding a 1872 Steinway D [Re: BerndAB]  
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MBA Offline
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Thank you very much, after reading the different opinions and point of views of all of you, I have decided not to buy it, it sounds too risky and expensive.

Here is another piano, this one I believe is from 1883. Would this be too old as well or is this a real D? [img:center]http://postimage.org/image/962hqnjv3/[/img]

#1879961 - 04/15/12 10:50 AM Re: Rebuilding a 1872 Steinway D [Re: MBA]  
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acortot Offline
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just to try and understand your motivations, are you trying to save money by buying an old steinway?

I think that if you LIKE old steinways and want to keep them original then it's a good idea to buy one.

if you don't like them and would prefer a newer one then buy a newer one because to modify them (and in the process ruining them because that's not how they were conceived) you would have to spend money anyhow, and the results would never be certain.

I would say that you should save-up and buy one which is already how you like it..


rhythm must be inborn - Alfred Cortot

An Article on the unusual makeup of original Pleyel hammers, during Chopin's lifetime:

http://acortot.blogspot.it/2012/07/pleyel-hammers-in-chopin-era-i-martelli.html

Max DiMario
#1879989 - 04/15/12 12:12 PM Re: Rebuilding a 1872 Steinway D [Re: MBA]  
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Rich Galassini Offline
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Originally Posted by MBA
Thank you very much, after reading the different opinions and point of views of all of you, I have decided not to buy it, it sounds too risky and expensive.

Here is another piano, this one I believe is from 1883. Would this be too old as well or is this a real D? [img:center]http://postimage.org/image/962hqnjv3/[/img]


This is going to be closer to the "modern D" in design, but the finish is absolutely terrible... or maybe it is old and just unevenly sun faded.

Sun fade on the cabinet can be corrected but often it has also had an effect on the piano internally. Remember that with an older piano you are buying the rebuilder as much as you are buying the piano itself. In my experience, the guy who spends lots of time and money advertising to people who will never visit before buying is not going to do artistically striking work.

This is from first hand experience.

Do NOT buy this piano (or any other used/rebuilt) sight unseen (and without an independent tech's exam).

My brief 2 cents,


Rich Galassini
Cunningham Piano Co.
Phila, Pa.
(215) 991-0834 direct line
rich@cunninghampiano.com
Check out the Science Channel's "How Its Made" featuring our piano restoration:
http://www.cunninghampiano.com/how-its-made/
#1879994 - 04/15/12 12:32 PM Re: Rebuilding a 1872 Steinway D [Re: MBA]  
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BDB Offline
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Why are you not posting serial numbers with these pianos? Steinway puts serial numbers all over their pianos, so they are not easy to obscure.


Semipro Tech
#1880054 - 04/15/12 02:44 PM Re: Rebuilding a 1872 Steinway D [Re: acortot]  
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MBA Offline
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It is a combination of all of the above. I don't have $100K+ to spend in a new D, my budget is way below that. But also I prefer the way old steinways sound once they are properly restored rather than a brand new super bright D. Aesthetically, I also prefer old pianos to new ones. Finally, in my opinion and this is very personal, buying an old steinway and having it restored is similar to going to a rescue animal center and getting a dog instead of buying a new dog; if no one buys these pianos and have them restored they will end up sooner or later dying in some warehouse or dump.

M

#1880055 - 04/15/12 02:45 PM Re: Rebuilding a 1872 Steinway D [Re: BDB]  
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MBA Offline
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Because I have checked the serial number at the Steinway website and I already know what year they were built. Thanks. M

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